Speech - Who We Are And Why We Fight




"Who We Are And Why We Fight"




Delegates, it's my tremendous privilege as the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party to follow the Prime Minister in seconding this statement of values – the very soul of our Platform.

This Prime Minister is tough as nails but she's more than that.  She's a Labor leader in the very best traditions of Curtin and Chifley and Whitlam and Hawke and Keating.  A Prime Minister motivated by the very best of Labor ideals and by the values she has just outlined for us here today.  Someone who takes the hard reform road not the low road of our opponents.  Someone who stands up for working people while the Liberal Party kneels at the feet of vested interests.  And while our political opponents look back in time, drawing inspiration from the very worst types of old-school self-interested conservatism, we have a leader with a plan for the future. 

There is no more important task before this conference than a debate about our beliefs and principles.  A debate about prosperity and opportunity and social justice and economic mobility and where they fit into a modern economy in a modern Australian society in the Asian Century.

But this chapter is not just about what we believe.  It is not just about the purpose of our politics.

It is also about who we are - a Party that believes success should be determined by effort, education and enterprise – not where you grew up.  A Party that believes in creating prosperity so we can spread opportunity – especially through good jobs and secure retirements.  A Party that believes it's what we do together that makes us strong. 

And it is a chapter dedicated to those we fight hardest for - the people who get up early, pack up the kids for school, work a long day, cook dinner, help with homework and get up and do it all again.

And those that ask for nothing more from their country than that which was given to those before us – a fair go and a fair chance. 

There'll be plenty of time in the other chapter debates to recount our achievements and lay out our plans but let me say this.  If you want to see our values, look at what we did to Workchoices.  Look at the price on carbon pollution after all those years – finally a clean energy future for our kids and grandkids to plan for and prosper in.

Look at the mining tax – not just a win for the Government but a win for workers and small businesses in every corner of the country.  A defining moment for economic reform and for every Australian that has worked together to make this nation so strong and resilient.  Labor values brought to life and brought to fruition.

Look at the 750,000 jobs created through a period of global turmoil, while other countries shed millions of jobs and ruined communities.  We don't choose the global circumstances in which we represent working people – we play the hand we're dealt. 

The economic and political challenges we face are a test of our mettle.  They are a test of our character.  That's why this chapter is so important, and why I second the PM's motion with such admiration for her and such pride in our movement.